[Milton-L] tree of life

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Sat Apr 5 14:10:12 EDT 2014


Jim Rovira--

Is there anything in Milton to support the idea that eating the fruit of
the Tree of Life would freeze people eternally in the state that they are
in? --as opposed, I guess, to PL-God's plan that humans would evolve and
become angelic or god-like?

Michael


On Sat, Apr 5, 2014 at 1:29 PM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:

> Here are another series of assumptions of mine, this time about the Tree
> of Life:
>
> The Tree of Life does not grant redemption or regeneration: it merely
> grants eternal -existence- to whoever eats it, eternalizing their current
> state of being (so working like ambrosia). God restricting Adam and Eve
> from eating of the fruit of the tree after the fall, then, was an act of
> mercy: it kept them from entering an eternally fallen state.
> Redemption/regeneration in the Christian sense is effected not by a magical
> fruit but through Christ's work and the Holy Spirit. What Christians eat
> for their redemption is the body and blood of Christ. The tree of life,
> therefore, is not made available again until after humanity has been
> finally redeemed and the New Jerusalem has been revealed, so that saved
> humanity can partake and live forever in a redeemed state.
>
> So had Adam and Eve eaten the fruit of the tree of life before the fall,
> they would have acquired an eternal existence in an unfallen, innocent
> state with bodies something like our own, which would have been interesting.
>
> My other assumption was that this state was incorruptible, but the
> Medieval reading mentioned earlier makes sense too. The phrase in Genesis,
> though, sounds as if a single instance of partaking of the fruit of the
> tree of life grants eternal existence the first time the fruit is eaten,
> which in this case would be parallel with the forbidden tree as well, which
> has its effects the single time a fruit is eaten.
>
> Milton's language does seem to be deliberately ambiguous on this point, so
> he seems to have had some difficulty with the issue himself. Carol's
> reading is a way out, existentializing the eating of the fruit of the tree
> of life.
>
> Jim R
>
>
> On Sat, Apr 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM, Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu> wrote:
>
>> Milton seems to have adopted a rule for his poem that everything in Gen.
>> 1-3 would be included and, insofar as possible, explained in a
>> sort-of-rational way. The Biblical God's apparent fear that fallen humans
>> should eat of the tree of life is unseemly. Milton deals with that by
>> quoting the Bible but having PL's God add the OR, "or dream at least to
>> live / Forever." PL's God thus implies that the fruit of the Tree of Life
>> would not confer immortality on the fallen humans, so the setting of a
>> guard on the tree is merely symbolic--a sign that humans cannot regain
>> eternal life through their own actions. Perhaps setting the guard is one of
>> the Father's "ghastly jokes" (Empson's phrase).
>>
>> Since the fruit is not needed before the fall, and would not work after
>> the fall, why is the Tree of Life there at all? Milton seems to strip it of
>> any function in the literal narrative and reduce it to a symbol prefiguring
>> Christian salvation. Does this get us any closer to establishing a
>> symmetrical relation between the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life?
>>
>>
>> On Sat, Apr 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM, Matthew Jordan <matthewjorda at gmail.com>wrote:
>>
>>> Containerization, surely? (And propagation, of course.)
>>>
>>>
>>> On 5 April 2014 17:41, JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca> wrote:
>>>
>>>> One tradition held that A+E were immortal through constant noshing on
>>>> the tree of life. Thus a troubling medieval counter-factual: Had they not
>>>> fallen, but procreated, their descendants populating the globe, how wd the
>>>> immortalizing fruit have been transported the necessary distances without
>>>> rotting? Anyway, this would seem to be the thought Milton is thinking
>>>> here--though it doesn't necessarily fit with those he thinks elsewhere. jdf
>>>>
>>>> ------------------------------
>>>> *From: *"Dave LTC MIL USA USMA Harper" <Dave.Harper at usma.edu>
>>>> *To: *milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>>>> *Sent: *Saturday, 5 April, 2014 08:29:28
>>>>
>>>> *Subject: *Re: [Milton-L] tree of life
>>>>
>>>> The arbitrariness of the injunction against the forbidden fruit (in
>>>> parallel
>>>> with the perhaps equally arbitrary exaltation of the Son) has never
>>>> bothered
>>>> me as much as the Tree of Life. I appreciate the bringing of knowledge
>>>> of
>>>> good and evil into the world through the act of disobedience, the same
>>>> way
>>>> that I sense that the parallel exaltation of the Son brings both the
>>>> potential for disobedience along with a revelation of angelic history (I
>>>> suspect Abdiel probably didn't know he was created by secondary hands
>>>> prior
>>>> to the exaltation).
>>>>
>>>> The tree of Life bothers me not only because it seems to have an
>>>> inherent
>>>> immortality-granting quality, but because (1) there was no injunction
>>>> against eating of it and (2) it would serve no purpose in an
>>>> prelapsarian
>>>> world where apparently everything was immortal anyway. And yet, we know
>>>> it
>>>> was there, and the narrator names it such when Satan alights on it as a
>>>> cormorant.
>>>>
>>>> God seems to have hedged his bets by placing an immortality-granting
>>>> tree in
>>>> an immortal garden, but then he takes it away when it is most needed.
>>>> Any
>>>> allegorical reference to salvation seems strained at best.
>>>>
>>>> Dave
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> -----Original Message-----
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>>>> milton-l-request at lists.richmond.edu
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>>>> Subject: Milton-L Digest, Vol 89, Issue 19
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>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> James Dougal Fleming
>>>> Associate Professor
>>>> Department of English
>>>> Simon Fraser University
>>>> 778-782-4713
>>>>
>>>> Burnaby -- British Columbia -- Canada.
>>>>
>>>> *Upstairs was a room for travelers. 'You know, I shall take it for the
>>>> rest of my life,' Vasili Ivanovich is reported to have said as soon as he
>>>> had entered it. *
>>>> -- Vladimir Naboko*v*,* "Cloud, Castle, Lake'*
>>>>
>>>>
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>
>
>
> --
> Dr. James Rovira
> Associate Professor of English
> Tiffin University
> http://www.jamesrovira.com
> Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety
> Continuum 2010
> http://jamesrovira.com/blake-and-kierkegaard-creation-and-anxiety/
> Text, Identity, Subjectivity
> http://scalar.usc.edu/works/text-identity-subjectivity/index
>
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